Week 37: State College

Locations: New York City, NY; Swarthmore, PA; State College, PA; Providence, RI; Somerville, MA; Cambridge, MA


Dates: 4/27/97-5/3/97

Sunday I woke up too early and hung out for a bit with David and his mother. Eventually I gathered my luggage together and took the subway to Penn Station, then took a succession of trains back to Swarthmore.

General NYC comments:

  • I was pleased to find that New Yorkers aren't the sullen and incredibly rude beings I thought they were; they're just people. I watched a lot of people be nice and/or polite to each other—someone moved over on the subway, for instance, to let a couple sit together. I saw almost no actual rudeness or unpleasantness all week.
  • Having a subway map and having the city's layout explained to me did wonders for my navigational abilities (even if I did end up in Brooklyn in the middle of the night). I was thrilled to be able to tell which direction to head just by looking at the street numbers.
  • Speaking of subways, public transportation in NYC is excellent. One look at this city, or Boston, or DC, ought to convince any Californians who doubt the usefulness of a good public transit system.
  • There's public art everywhere! Big statues, interesting architecture. Some I liked, some I didn't, but cool that it's there.
  • My friends in New York all say they like roughly the same thing about it: that it's "the city that never sleeps," that there's round-the-clock Cultchah everywhere you look. I personally find that idea a bit intimidating and exhausting—but then, my idea of a good time is curling up in a chair and reading all evening, and I've never liked nightclubs and bars and such. I guess this is why I live in the suburbs...
  • Prices are high. But not as much higher-than-elsewhere as I'd expected.

On return to Swat, had dinner with Melissa B. Jim M helped me get my column done.

Talked with Melissa B more on Monday; then a bunch of folks got together to go see a movie at the mall. Afterward, we all went to Chinese food, and got back to Swat just in time for the evening's SWIL movie. I shouldn't have stayed for it—it became quickly obvious that it was going to be pretty bad, and I had lots of packing left to do. But I figured I'd be social for my last night in Swarthmore.

In the morning of course I didn't get my car all packed up until about 11:30, then made a couple of stops on campus to say goodbye to various Melissas. During one of which I left my car blinkers on, as a sign requested that people parked there do; when I came out five minutes later, my car wouldn't start. I eventually got Security to give me a jump start, and finally got moving around noon (as compared to my planned departure time of 10:30 or so).

The drive to State College was lovely—lots of greenery, rolling hills, trees. Much nicer than last time I was there, during a snowstorm back in October or so.

It was great to see Alex again—hadn't quite realized that I hadn't seen him since graduation, and hadn't had much contact with him in the intervening seven years. Turned out we had a lot more to talk about than I'd expected. That evening he ran a session of the Shadowrun roleplaying game (cyberpunk + magic), in which I participated—my first roleplaying since September. I'd never been in a game of his before; he turned out to be quite a good GM, and the other players turned out to be quite good roleplayers. A good time was had by all. (I played a young woman named Ace ("as in Bandage"), a streetwise shaman who heals people who can't afford more mainstream medical attention.)

Woke late on Tuesday morning. Met Alex for lunch at 11, expecting to have a quick lunch and hit the road; instead, he got the afternoon off work, and we spent a few hours wandering around the Penn State campus in the bright spring sunshine and chatting about life and RPGs.

I finally got moving around 3, and after a long but uneventful drive reached Providence around 10:30. Chatted with Andy P (yet another person I hadn't seen in years) for a bit, then went to bed.

Early the next afternoon I headed for Boston. When I got to Steve & Bhadrika's place, Jazz didn't recognize me at first, and continued to occasionally call me Brian for the next couple days...

Steph and Harlan's cat Riley in a sink
Steph and Harlan's cat Riley in a sink

Friday I took Bhadrika on some errands, got some money changed in preparation for the England trip, hung out at Steph & Harlan's for a little while to keep their kitten company (I was apt- and kitten-sitting for them for the weekend), talked with Beth a little, saw half an episode of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show, and went to story reading. For about the 10th consecutive night, didn't get enough sleep due to waking abruptly at 9:30 for no obvious reason.

Spent Saturday morning in relaxed puttering about in much-needed solitude. It was the first time I'd had completely alone in a living space in a couple of weeks; I'm learning that I desperately need a certain amount of alone-time every week, especially when I don't have a space of my own to retreat to (I'd been sleeping in an awful lot of living rooms). When I felt a little recharged, I headed over to Bhadrika & Steve's to attend their barbeque, which, despite ongoing drizzle through the afternoon, went quite well. Got to see a bunch of friends and do a little catching up before leaving for dinner with Beth, which also went well.

In the evening, Beth and Susan and Diana and I made the 45-minute drive in the rain to Franklin, MA, most of the way back to Providence, to see a Short Sisters concert I'd been looking forward to for a couple months. Then back to Boston and sleep, with music filling my head, only to wake up too early on Sunday morning once again.

Movies, Books, etc.

Grosse Pointe Blank
Very funny, frequently silly, great music, quirky plot and actors (I consider this a good thing), occasionally a little too gory. Anyone who's recently been to a high school reunion or is considering going to one ought to see this, especially if you belong to an unusual profession like, say, hit-man.
Dreadful—they'd clearly interviewed some hackers for background, but they'd equally clearly ignored much of what they were told. Effects, acting, and story are all bad, with the exception of a few great lines from one minor character (and a couple of cute leads), which are definitely not enough to recommend actually seeing the movie.

(Last updated: 20 May 1997.)

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